A Night Out: The NEA’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala
Teachers traded comfortable shoes and school lunches for heels and a three-course dinner at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala.
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Teachers from across the area got the celebrity treatment Friday night at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala. A red carpet welcomed guests to the Building Museum while “paparazzi”—local high-school students armed with cameras and above-average lung capacities—lined the entrance.
“We want them to feel special tonight,” said NEA president Reg Weaver. “They work hard, and this is their night.”
The night took on a n Oscars vibe as more than 50 awards were given to the nation’s best educators. The top prize? The $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence, given to one of five finalists—all public-school teachers.
Minnesota first-grade teacher Lynette Wayne was awarded the coveted prize, and the remaining finalists, including Herndon High School political-science teacher Doug Graney, beamed as they were individually announced, congratulated, and awarded $10,000 checks courtesy of the Horace Mann Companies. (Wayne also received a separate $10,000 check.)
Oscar comparisons didn’t stop at the award presentations. Just as political gestures are often unavoidable at Hollywood’s annual event, the NEA gala was no exception: Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sent letters expressing regret for their absence while they compete for a certain top prize of their own.